Tall in the Saddle


1h 27m 1944
Tall in the Saddle

Brief Synopsis

A woman-hating cowboy signs on with a lady rancher.

Film Details

Genre
Mystery
Western
Release Date
Oct 17, 1944
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Tall in the Saddle by Gordon Ray Young (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Rocklin, a taciturn, woman-hating cowboy, buys a ticket for the stage bound for Santa Inez and climbs aboard next to the driver, Dave, a cantankerous old drunk. Joining them on the journey is Miss Elizabeth Martin, a supercillious Easterner, and her niece, Clara Cardell. At the rest stop, they meet Sheriff Jackson and Bob Clews, who have ridden from Santa Inez to investigate some stolen meat. There, Rocklin learns that Clara's great uncle, Red Cardell, the owner of the K.C. ranch, was shot in the back several weeks earlier. When a drunken Dave insults Clews and the sheriff, they take him outside to rest, and later, Rocklin finds that he has been pistol-whipped and dumped in a pile of hay. Rocklin drives the stage to town and is invited by Robert Garvey, the town lawyer, to join a poker game. Clint Harolday, the stepson of the owner of the Topaz Ranch, bets against Rocklin, but when Clint insists upon playing a card that was exposed face-up, Rocklin declares the card "dead" and himself the winner. Clint, a sore loser, pulls a gun on Rocklin, who then saunters upstairs to his room, straps on his gun and claims his winnings from Clint. Later, Rocklin is confronted by Clint's feisty sister Arly, who demands her brother's winnings and takes several shots at the cowboy. In response, Rocklin coolly turns his back on Arly and walks away. Rocklin then visits Garvey, Cardell's attorney, and shows him a letter written by Cardell, hiring the cowboy as his foreman. At that moment, Miss Martin and Clara arrive at Garvey's office to claim the K.C. ranch as Clara's legacy. Upon learning that Cardell hired Rocklin to work as ranch foreman, Miss Martin denounces the cowboy, who then returns the $150 in wages that Cardell had advanced him. As Clara starts to insist that Rocklin keep the money, Arly enters the office to inform the cowboy that her stepfather wants to hire him as foreman of the Topaz Ranch. In reality, it is Arly, attracted by Rocklin's panache, who has decided to hire him. When Rocklin meets his new employer, Harolday tells him that he thinks Cardell was killed by a gang of rustlers and dispatches him to a deserted line camp to watch for them. After Rocklin leaves town, Clara asks Tala, a hand at the Topaz Ranch and Arly's constant companion, to deliver a letter to the cowboy. Tala gives the letter to Dave, who is now a driver for the freight line. When Tala discovers that Arly has glamorized herself for Rocklin, he tells her about Clara's letter. Dave delivers the letter to Rocklin, which contains his $150 and a plea for advice. In it, Clara confides her suspicion that Garvey is trying to convince her aunt to place the ranch in his hands and return East. When Rocklin questions Dave about the relationship between Cardell and Garvey, the old timer tells him that Cardell had discovered a deck of marked cards in Garvey's coat pocket and was on his way to report them to the district judge when he was shot in the back. As Dave completes his story, a bullet, aimed at Rocklin, flies through the window. The two men run outside to investigate and find a pouch with a silver steer's head on it. Returning to the cabin, they find Arly searching for Clara's letter. Jealous, Arly orders Rocklin off her ranch, and after she throws a knife at him, he kisses her and leaves. Riding to Harolday's office, Rocklin shows him the pouch and tells him about the shooting. Harolday recognizes the pouch and after Rocklin departs, he warns Clint to leave town. At his hotel, Rocklin is met by Clara, who tells him that her aunt is threatening to sign an affidavit that would declare her underage and thus cede control of the ranch to the older woman. When Clara tells him that Garvey possesses a letter proving that she is of legal age, Rocklin goes to retrieve the letter but is too late, because Garvey has just burned it. Garvey is in the process of drafting the affidavit when Rocklin bursts into his office and begins to search for the letter. When Rocklin finds two decks of marked cards in Garvey's desk, he accuses the lawyer of killing Cardell. After instructing Dave to bring Clint to him, Rocklin returns to his room, where he finds Arly and Clara talking. When Arly tries to make Clara jealous by telling her about Rocklin's kiss, the cowboy promises to take the dejected Clara to Garden City the next day so that they can investigate Garvey. After the two women leave, Dave brings Clint to Rocklin's room. As Rocklin interrogates Clint about Garvey's involvement in Cardell's murder, Tala watches Garvey climb the outside stairs to Rocklin's room. Clint shoves Rocklin, and Garvey reaches through the open window, grabs Rocklin's gun and shoots at Clint. Drawn by the sounds of gunshots, a group of townsfolk rush to Rocklin's room and, finding Clint dead, assume at Garvey's urging that Rocklin killed Clint. Denying Garvey's accusation, Rocklin jumps out the window and escapes. As Garvey organizes a posse to pursue Rocklin, Tala tells Arly that he saw Clint's murderer and vows to bring him to justice. Hiding in Dave's wagon, Rocklin drives to the K.C. ranch and overhears Miss Martin admit to Clara that she and Garvey are involved in a scheme to steal the ranch from Rocklin, Cardell's nephew and rightful heir. When Miss Martin discovers Rocklin's presence, she orders Garvey's henchmen, Clews and his brother George, to take Dave and Rocklin prisoner and deliver them to Garvey in town. Clara faints as they tie up Dave and Rocklin and throw them into Dave's wagon. At the gate to the ranch, Garvey's henchmen are stopped by Arly and Tala, who have beaten the posse to the ranch. Although Arly warns Rocklin that he must leave at once, he insists on returning for Clara. Dave and Rocklin sneak around to the back window while the posse gallops up to the front door, and Miss Martin tells them that the Clewses have taken the fugitives to town and asks to speak to Garvey alone. After the others leave, she tells Garvey that Rocklin knows everything. They are arguing when Rocklin enters the room and asks Garvey about the pouch. Harolday, who has stayed behind, sneaks up to the window and is about to shoot Rocklin when Arly, who is hiding in the bushes, throws a knife at him. After Arly tells Rocklin that Tala saw Harolday kill Clint, Harolday tries to run away. Rocklin aims his gun at him, but Arly hits his arm, causing him to miss so that Tala can exact revenge with his knife. Garvey then admits that he and Harolday were involved in a scheme to buy up ranches and subdivide the land to sell to farmers. Garvey continues that Harolday killed Cardell when he threatened to expose the marked cards and that Clint's bullet was meant for Rocklin. After Clara announces that she plans to return to the East, Rocklin follows Arly outside. Later, Dave and Tala see them kissing.

Film Details

Genre
Mystery
Western
Release Date
Oct 17, 1944
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Tall in the Saddle by Gordon Ray Young (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Tall in the Saddle


John Wayne was still paying his dues as a leading man when he made Tall in the Saddle (1944). 1939's Stagecoach had made him a star after a decade of headlining B-westerns, but he was under contract to Republic, which was still a "poverty row" studio that made its money on B-movies. With a budding star in its stable, Republic cashed in by casting him in one western after another, with a smattering of action and war films tossed into the mix. Budgets increased and production values improved, but most were still being cranked out at a rapid rate. With few exceptions, his best films in the years following Stagecoach -- The Long Voyage Home (1940) for John Ford, Reap the Wild Wind (1942) for Cecil B. DeMille, The Spoilers and Pittsburgh (both 1942) with Marlene Dietrich and Randolph Scott -- were made for other studios.

Tall in the Saddle, Wayne's second film in a six-picture deal with RKO, is a classic western tale of the stalwart hero who stands up against corruption and injustice, the old west version of a knight errant. It's arguably his best western since Stagecoach and it even references that breakthrough as Wayne enters the film by hitching a ride at a stage stop. Five years later, Wayne is older and more confident and it shows in his portrayal of Rocklin, a decent, modest cowboy with a rustic but respectful manner, a respect for cussed old frontier survivors like stage driver Dave (George 'Gabby' Hayes), and the strength and spine to stand up to bullies without even pulling a gun. While he faces down the corrupt sheriff and his minions, he develops a crush on a society girl, Clara Cardell (Audrey Long), who arrives in the same stagecoach with her disapproving spinster guardian, and strikes romantic sparks in his clashes with the fierce, feisty cowgirl Arly (Ella Raines), the beautiful and dangerous daughter of another rancher. Ward Bond, Wayne's close friend and drinking buddy, co-stars as the jovial but ethically questionable Judge Garvey.

It was only the fifth feature for Raines, a starlet who had just completed what would become her signature roles: the girl Friday turned detective in Phantom Lady and the small town beauty in Hail the Conquering Hero (both 1944). Tall in the Saddle gave her a very different kind of role, part tomboy and part volatile beauty, and she attacks it with the confidence of a veteran cowgirl in high Hollywood make-up, with eyes flashing and guns blazing.

Shot on the RKO Encino Ranch and on location in Agoura and Lake Sherwood, California, Tall in the Saddle features rugged landscapes and boisterous action, including a couple of impressive slugfests. Director Edwin L. Marin keeps the film lively and action packed but never rushes Wayne, who maintains the easy, laconic persona. Wayne understood that in terms of dialogue, less was better, so he's appropriately terse and direct, playing his cards close to his chest. He gives no first name or personal history, doesn't flinch from confrontation or gunfights, and is cool enough to take on the town bullies without firing a shot. Wayne carries himself with such strength, confidence and purpose that his very presence intimidates lesser men.

Wayne didn't have a lot of control over his career at this point but he knew his strengths as a screen performer and learned how to develop and refine his persona. He found the original story for Tall in the Saddle and helped develop the script with actor Paul Fix, who had been Wayne's acting coach in his early days. He also formed a strong bond with producer Robert Fellows, who later became his partner in Batjac productions. According to biographers Randy Roberts and James S. Olson, working so closely with Fix and Fellows inspired Wayne to take more control of his films. Such a step was still years away for the rising star but Tall in the Saddle was another step in Wayne's ascension to Hollywood stardom.

Producer: Robert Fellows
Director: Edwin L. Marin
Screenplay: Michael Hogan, Paul P. Fix (both screenplay); Gordon Ray Young (original story)
Cinematography: Robert de Grasse
Art Direction: Ralph Berger, Albert S. D'Agostino
Music: Roy Webb
Film Editing: Philip Martin, Jr.
Cast: John Wayne (Rocklin), Ella Raines (Arleta 'Arly' Harolday), Ward Bond ('Judge' Robert Garvey), George 'Gabby' Hayes (Dave), Audrey Long (Clara Cardell), Elisabeth Risdon (Miss Elizabeth Martin), Don Douglas (Harolday), Paul Fix (Bob Clews), Russell Wade (Clint Harolday), Emory Parnell (Sheriff Jackson).
BW-88m.

by Sean Axmaker

Sources:
The Complete Films of John Wayne, Steve Zmijewsky, Boris Zmijewsky, and Mark Ricci. Citadel, 1983.
John Wayne: American, Randy Roberts and James S. Olson. Simon and Schuster, 1995.
IMDB
Tall In The Saddle

Tall in the Saddle

John Wayne was still paying his dues as a leading man when he made Tall in the Saddle (1944). 1939's Stagecoach had made him a star after a decade of headlining B-westerns, but he was under contract to Republic, which was still a "poverty row" studio that made its money on B-movies. With a budding star in its stable, Republic cashed in by casting him in one western after another, with a smattering of action and war films tossed into the mix. Budgets increased and production values improved, but most were still being cranked out at a rapid rate. With few exceptions, his best films in the years following Stagecoach -- The Long Voyage Home (1940) for John Ford, Reap the Wild Wind (1942) for Cecil B. DeMille, The Spoilers and Pittsburgh (both 1942) with Marlene Dietrich and Randolph Scott -- were made for other studios. Tall in the Saddle, Wayne's second film in a six-picture deal with RKO, is a classic western tale of the stalwart hero who stands up against corruption and injustice, the old west version of a knight errant. It's arguably his best western since Stagecoach and it even references that breakthrough as Wayne enters the film by hitching a ride at a stage stop. Five years later, Wayne is older and more confident and it shows in his portrayal of Rocklin, a decent, modest cowboy with a rustic but respectful manner, a respect for cussed old frontier survivors like stage driver Dave (George 'Gabby' Hayes), and the strength and spine to stand up to bullies without even pulling a gun. While he faces down the corrupt sheriff and his minions, he develops a crush on a society girl, Clara Cardell (Audrey Long), who arrives in the same stagecoach with her disapproving spinster guardian, and strikes romantic sparks in his clashes with the fierce, feisty cowgirl Arly (Ella Raines), the beautiful and dangerous daughter of another rancher. Ward Bond, Wayne's close friend and drinking buddy, co-stars as the jovial but ethically questionable Judge Garvey. It was only the fifth feature for Raines, a starlet who had just completed what would become her signature roles: the girl Friday turned detective in Phantom Lady and the small town beauty in Hail the Conquering Hero (both 1944). Tall in the Saddle gave her a very different kind of role, part tomboy and part volatile beauty, and she attacks it with the confidence of a veteran cowgirl in high Hollywood make-up, with eyes flashing and guns blazing. Shot on the RKO Encino Ranch and on location in Agoura and Lake Sherwood, California, Tall in the Saddle features rugged landscapes and boisterous action, including a couple of impressive slugfests. Director Edwin L. Marin keeps the film lively and action packed but never rushes Wayne, who maintains the easy, laconic persona. Wayne understood that in terms of dialogue, less was better, so he's appropriately terse and direct, playing his cards close to his chest. He gives no first name or personal history, doesn't flinch from confrontation or gunfights, and is cool enough to take on the town bullies without firing a shot. Wayne carries himself with such strength, confidence and purpose that his very presence intimidates lesser men. Wayne didn't have a lot of control over his career at this point but he knew his strengths as a screen performer and learned how to develop and refine his persona. He found the original story for Tall in the Saddle and helped develop the script with actor Paul Fix, who had been Wayne's acting coach in his early days. He also formed a strong bond with producer Robert Fellows, who later became his partner in Batjac productions. According to biographers Randy Roberts and James S. Olson, working so closely with Fix and Fellows inspired Wayne to take more control of his films. Such a step was still years away for the rising star but Tall in the Saddle was another step in Wayne's ascension to Hollywood stardom. Producer: Robert Fellows Director: Edwin L. Marin Screenplay: Michael Hogan, Paul P. Fix (both screenplay); Gordon Ray Young (original story) Cinematography: Robert de Grasse Art Direction: Ralph Berger, Albert S. D'Agostino Music: Roy Webb Film Editing: Philip Martin, Jr. Cast: John Wayne (Rocklin), Ella Raines (Arleta 'Arly' Harolday), Ward Bond ('Judge' Robert Garvey), George 'Gabby' Hayes (Dave), Audrey Long (Clara Cardell), Elisabeth Risdon (Miss Elizabeth Martin), Don Douglas (Harolday), Paul Fix (Bob Clews), Russell Wade (Clint Harolday), Emory Parnell (Sheriff Jackson). BW-88m. by Sean Axmaker Sources: The Complete Films of John Wayne, Steve Zmijewsky, Boris Zmijewsky, and Mark Ricci. Citadel, 1983. John Wayne: American, Randy Roberts and James S. Olson. Simon and Schuster, 1995. IMDB

John Wayne Legendary Heroes Collection


The John Wayne Legendary Heroes Collection - featuring five classic films from the larger-than-life American hero - will debut on DVD May 3 from Warner Home Video. All five titles in the Collection, including Blood Alley, McQ, The Sea Chase, Tall in the Saddle and The Train Robbers, will be available on DVD for the first time.

Born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, John Wayne first worked in the film business as a laborer on the Fox lot during summer vacations from U.S.C., which he attended on a football scholarship. He met and was befriended by John Ford, a young director who was beginning to make a name for himself in action films, comedies and dramas. It was Ford who recommended Wayne to director Raoul Walsh for the male lead in the 1930 epic Western The Big Trail, and, although it was a box office failure, the movie showed Wayne's potential.

For the next nine years, Wayne worked in a multitude of B-Westerns and serials in between bit parts in larger features. Wayne's big break came in 1939, when Ford cast him as the Ringo Kid in the adventure Stagecoach. Wayne nearly stole the picture from his more seasoned co-stars, and his career as a box-office superstar began. During his 50 year film career, Wayne played the lead in 142 movies, an as yet unsurpassed record, and was nominated for three Academy Awards®, winning the Best Actor award in 1970 for his performance in True Grit.

Details of The John Wayne Legendary Heroes Collection Films

Blood Alley (1955) - An American seafarer patrolling the South Seas is asked by the daughter of a missionary doctor killed by the Communists to help transport the citizens of a small Chinese town to freedom in Hong Kong. This action-adventure based on A. S. Fleischman's novel, marks the first on-screen pairing of movie legends John Wayne and Lauren Bacall.

DVD special features include:

Newsreel footage
- The Hollywood Foreign Press Honors John Wayne
- Crusade for Freedom
- John Wayne and The Legion Poppy Sale (silent clip)
- Air Force Honors the Cast of Blood Alley
-1955 Promos on Blood Alley - Wayne discusses how he made it into the movies; "the monster" of movie land; the Mitchell BNC camera and his use of his home movie camera to capture scenes while on Blood Alley
- John Wayne trailer gallery

McQ (1974) - John Wayne forcefully enforces the law in this high-velocity thriller that's a revenge western set in the big city. Police Lieutenant Lon McQ (Wayne) investigates the killing of his best friend and uncovers corrupt elements of the police department dealing in confiscated drugs. Directed by John Sturges (Ice Station Zebra, The Magnificent Seven), McQ also stars Eddie Albert (Roman Holiday) and Colleen Dewhurst (Annie Hall, Dying Young).

DVD special features include:

- Featurette
- John Wayne trailer gallery

The Sea Chase (1955) - John Wayne and Lana Turner are a formidable romantic team in this harrowing adventure directed by Academy Award-nominee John Farrow (Wake Island). Sea captain Kal Erhlich (Wayne) is an anti-Nazi German freighter captain at the outset of World War II attempting to sail his ship from Australia to the North Sea rather than risk internment. Both Allied and German ships follow in pursuit, while Erhlich battles storms, sharks, and romances.

DVD special features include:

- John Wayne trailer gallery

Tall in the Saddle (1944) - In this fast-paced entertaining western, John Wayne stars as Rocklin, a cowboy who upon arriving at a ranch to work as a cowhand finds his employer was just murdered. Although he has no friends, and no money, Rocklin stays in town, intent on tracking the killers and uncovering a plan to inherit the dead employer's riches.

DVD special features include:

- John Wayne trailer gallery

The Train Robbers (1973) - The action never stops in this western starring John Wayne, Ann-Margret and Ricardo Montalban. A gunhand named Lane (Wayne) is hired by a widow, Mrs. Lowe (Ann-Margret), to find gold stolen by her husband so that she may return it and start fresh. However, once they cross the border into Mexico to recover the loot, they discover two very different pursuers: a large group of bandidos and a lone horseman (Montalban), both of whom know their every move.

DVD special features include:

Two featurettes
Working with a Western Legend - an inside look at Wayne with stuntmen Jerry Gatlin, Dean Smith and Terry Leonard
The Wayne Train
- John Wayne trailer gallery

John Wayne Legendary Heroes Collection

The John Wayne Legendary Heroes Collection - featuring five classic films from the larger-than-life American hero - will debut on DVD May 3 from Warner Home Video. All five titles in the Collection, including Blood Alley, McQ, The Sea Chase, Tall in the Saddle and The Train Robbers, will be available on DVD for the first time. Born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, John Wayne first worked in the film business as a laborer on the Fox lot during summer vacations from U.S.C., which he attended on a football scholarship. He met and was befriended by John Ford, a young director who was beginning to make a name for himself in action films, comedies and dramas. It was Ford who recommended Wayne to director Raoul Walsh for the male lead in the 1930 epic Western The Big Trail, and, although it was a box office failure, the movie showed Wayne's potential. For the next nine years, Wayne worked in a multitude of B-Westerns and serials in between bit parts in larger features. Wayne's big break came in 1939, when Ford cast him as the Ringo Kid in the adventure Stagecoach. Wayne nearly stole the picture from his more seasoned co-stars, and his career as a box-office superstar began. During his 50 year film career, Wayne played the lead in 142 movies, an as yet unsurpassed record, and was nominated for three Academy Awards®, winning the Best Actor award in 1970 for his performance in True Grit. Details of The John Wayne Legendary Heroes Collection Films Blood Alley (1955) - An American seafarer patrolling the South Seas is asked by the daughter of a missionary doctor killed by the Communists to help transport the citizens of a small Chinese town to freedom in Hong Kong. This action-adventure based on A. S. Fleischman's novel, marks the first on-screen pairing of movie legends John Wayne and Lauren Bacall. DVD special features include: Newsreel footage - The Hollywood Foreign Press Honors John Wayne - Crusade for Freedom - John Wayne and The Legion Poppy Sale (silent clip) - Air Force Honors the Cast of Blood Alley -1955 Promos on Blood Alley - Wayne discusses how he made it into the movies; "the monster" of movie land; the Mitchell BNC camera and his use of his home movie camera to capture scenes while on Blood Alley - John Wayne trailer gallery McQ (1974) - John Wayne forcefully enforces the law in this high-velocity thriller that's a revenge western set in the big city. Police Lieutenant Lon McQ (Wayne) investigates the killing of his best friend and uncovers corrupt elements of the police department dealing in confiscated drugs. Directed by John Sturges (Ice Station Zebra, The Magnificent Seven), McQ also stars Eddie Albert (Roman Holiday) and Colleen Dewhurst (Annie Hall, Dying Young). DVD special features include: - Featurette - John Wayne trailer gallery The Sea Chase (1955) - John Wayne and Lana Turner are a formidable romantic team in this harrowing adventure directed by Academy Award-nominee John Farrow (Wake Island). Sea captain Kal Erhlich (Wayne) is an anti-Nazi German freighter captain at the outset of World War II attempting to sail his ship from Australia to the North Sea rather than risk internment. Both Allied and German ships follow in pursuit, while Erhlich battles storms, sharks, and romances. DVD special features include: - John Wayne trailer gallery Tall in the Saddle (1944) - In this fast-paced entertaining western, John Wayne stars as Rocklin, a cowboy who upon arriving at a ranch to work as a cowhand finds his employer was just murdered. Although he has no friends, and no money, Rocklin stays in town, intent on tracking the killers and uncovering a plan to inherit the dead employer's riches. DVD special features include: - John Wayne trailer gallery The Train Robbers (1973) - The action never stops in this western starring John Wayne, Ann-Margret and Ricardo Montalban. A gunhand named Lane (Wayne) is hired by a widow, Mrs. Lowe (Ann-Margret), to find gold stolen by her husband so that she may return it and start fresh. However, once they cross the border into Mexico to recover the loot, they discover two very different pursuers: a large group of bandidos and a lone horseman (Montalban), both of whom know their every move. DVD special features include: Two featurettes Working with a Western Legend - an inside look at Wayne with stuntmen Jerry Gatlin, Dean Smith and Terry Leonard The Wayne Train - John Wayne trailer gallery

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Gordon Ray Young's novel was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post from March 7, 1942 to April 25, 1942. According to a pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter, Maurice Geraghty was assigned to script the film, but the extent of his contribution to the final film has not been determined. This was John Wayne's first film under his new RKO contract, which required him to star in one RKO picture per year for seven years. It was also former film editor Theron Warth's first credit as an associate producer. A news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that some scenes were filmed at the RKO Ranch in Encino, CA. The film was among the first to employ a new technique developed by photographer Vernon L. Walker that could combine matte clouds and mountain backgrounds with outdoor process shots, according to Hollywood Reporter.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1944

Released in United States on Video May 31, 1989

Re-released in United States on Video May 9, 1995

Broadcast in USA over TBS (colorized version) November 7, 1989.

Released in United States 1944

Re-released in United States on Video May 9, 1995

Released in United States on Video May 31, 1989